By Rev. Amy Pitton
It is commonly understood that we humans are made up of three distinct elements — body, mind/emotion, and spirit — and all three elements need attention in order for us to be healthy and whole. We already know how to care for our bodies — good nutrition and exercise are key to overall health. We understand how important it is to take care of our minds, keeping them agile through education and developing critical thinking skills. We have therapists to help with emotional health. But when it comes to taking care of our spiritual health, many of us aren’t sure what that means or how to go about it. It gets mixed up with talk of higher powers, myth, superstition, and the need for scientific proof. We can’t see the forest for the trees.
Nevertheless, nurturing one’s spirit is just as important as nurturing the body and mind/emotions when it comes to realizing our full potential as human beings. Spiritual health is often indicated by a lightness of being, a trust in the powers of goodness and love, and the strength to let go of worry and fear. The process of nourishing our spirits can be both fun and joy-filled.
There are many ways to pursue spiritual health. The first step is to find the methods that work for each individual. Some appreciate ritual; others find spiritual health in spontaneous activity. Some find that meditation works; others enjoy being physical and loud. Some are fed through participating in a community; others need solitude. Some need visual components, others auditory or kinesthetic.
To that end, Bethany Church is pleased to offer a new opportunity called Bethany Center for Spirituality Through the Arts. You may have seen some of the larger events we have recently offered — the Green Mountain Jamboree with Jon Gailmor in October and the Sky Blue Boys in December, a Halloween organ concert with Christopher McWilliams, a piano concert by Michael Arnowitt, and Friday night dances as well as a New Year’s Dance with Dave Keller. We were able to do this in a COVID-safe manner in part because of a new state-of-the-art air exchange system.
The center offers opportunities for folks to explore their own sense of spirituality through a variety of artistic experiences, from art classes, to traditional spiritual practices, to community events such as concerts and dances that feed the soul. It also offers painting, photography, dance, music, meditation, movement, labyrinth walking, cooking, theater — the list is endless — as well as offering the opportunity to build spiritual community among participants, if desired.
Although Bethany Church is a Christian church, the Center for Spirituality Through the Arts is not Christian-focused. Rather, each offering begins with two universal spiritual beliefs. The first is that there is inherent worth in every individual as a being with spiritual needs. The second is that there are spiritual connections, based particularly in love, that bind us together as a human community in a shared and diverse world. These beliefs are central to the majority of spiritual traditions, and from this foundation, participants can explore different ways to develop their own spiritual awareness and practices from a variety of sources.
An additional spiritual principle that BCSA has adopted is that each offering will be designed so that everyone benefits fairly, and that spiritual nurture does not come at an unjust cost. For example, musicians who play for a community dance will receive fair compensation and will not depend on a tip bucket. It means that instructors and practitioners will be compensated fairly. It means that participants will be asked to financially support programs in an equitable manner.
As part of the kickoff of Bethany Center for Spirituality Through the Arts, a GoFundMe campaign has been launched to raise seed money. Gifts in any amount are welcome, and all contributors of over $25 will receive two tickets of their choice to any upcoming event. The GoFundMe campaign can be accessed at gofund.me/9767a599.
Find information about upcoming programs by following “BCSA” on Facebook or go to bethanychurchvt.org. The center is looking for teachers to offer classes, workshops and activities with a spiritual component. All staff members will be required to pass a background check. Contact the center at BethanyCSA21@gmail.com, or call Mark LeGrand at 802-223-2424 with any questions.